Friday, November 18, 2016

Pomade, narcissism and intellectual waste

The key differences between Larry Madowo's #TheTrend and Jeff Koinange's #JKL are that Mr Madowo is partial to spectacularly colourful socks and Mr Koinange seems hell-bent on keeping the manufacturers of Hair-Glo in business till the end of time. Their similarities, however, are quite striking: both have the most vacuous guests on their shows; both perform some sort of public celebration of "celebrity"; and both eschew anything that has "intelligent", "informed" or "educational" in its profile. While Mr Madowo once celebrated his show's low-brow intentions, Mr Koinange still painfully labours under the delusion that #JKL is a "serious" show. 

The recently leaked footage on Mr Koinange's show's set in which one male gubernatorial candidate dismisses his opponent using the crudest sexism and misogyny known to us (while Mr Koinange and his crew snigger like high school boys) cements the impression that the only serious thing about #JKL is the curiosity about how much Mr Koinange really spends on pomade.

Uduak Amimo, Muchiri Wahome and John Sibi Okumu remain the most talented political interviewers this country has ever produced. Ms Amimo is the last one standing and if she bows out before a replacement is found, Kenya will be left with the likes of the as-useful-as-a-bucket-of-spit #JKL. We should be very, very afraid that the equivalent of Jerry Springer is the talk of the town for the "political" guests he has on his show, never mind that most of what they say is fatuous, vacuous, self-serving bullshit to rival all the political bullshit generated over the ages. That it is often overwhelmingly male should go without saying though it should be said often and loudly.

Mr Koinange and his show are proof positive that we are slowly erasing whatever standards of political discourse we ever had. Beginning with the shutting down of the Weekly Review, the hounding out of business of Finance Magazine and the ill-executed resurrection of the Nairobi Law Monthly, political discourse is poorly served these days. We have only shows like Cheche Live to look forward to and even then, because it is broadcast at 8 in the morning, few of us have the chance to benefit fully from the discourse moderated by Ms Amimo. On TV, radio or in print, Kenya is being fed a steady diet of salacious and scandalous gossip masquerading as "current events" and discourse that is defined by its obsession with sex and sexual innuendo, often at the expense of women or female guests.

I understand; sex sells and the more salacious and sensationalist the innuendo, the higher the TV ratings and the more the station can charge for ads and whatnot. But it is time to stop pretending that shows like #JKL add value to our lives; it is time to remind ourselves that when we demean and denigrate women, when we stand by and snigger as they or their worth is diminished, as we defend those who humiliate them in the name of "political warfare" as one woman put it, we destroy our national soul just a little, we fill our national institutions with just a bit more hostility, we raise our children to be abusers and victims. Mr Koinange's show is a pox on our home and we need a great dose of penicillin to cure us of our attraction to pomade, narcissism and intellectual wastelands.

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